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Biljon pays tribute to departing stalwart ‘Macca’

07/06/2023

Macauley Cook has retired from professional rugby after a 13-year career, which included three seasons in Jersey with the Reds and concluded with the RFU Championship title.

'Macca' announced his decision five weeks after his final game for the Reds, which saw a crucial win over Ampthill at Stade Santander International to cement his side's status as champions of the English second tier.

Having made his competitive debut against Richmond in March 2021, Cook went on to play more than 60 times for the Reds. He scored around 10 tries, the most important coming in the 76th minute of April's must-win encounter against Bedford Blues. This score sealed a 19-26 win for the Reds and set up the prospect of silverware over the final two games of the season against nearest rivals Ealing Trailfinders and Ampthill.

He said: "After 13 seasons of professional rugby I’ve decided to call time on my professional career. From my debut as an 18-year-old at Cardiff Blues in 2010 to my last game for Jersey Reds to win the league - it's been one hell of a ride!

"There have been many ups and downs; the ultimate low of watching my best mate suffer a serious neck injury to the huge high of being part of the Blues' squad to reach the 2018 European Challenge Cup Final and lift the trophy in Bilbao.

"Then winning the RFU Championship with Jersey Reds against the odds a few weeks ago, alongside an unbelievable bunch of people - these things will forever be etched in my memory. Sport really does create memories and friendships that nothing else can.

"Thank you for everyone who helped along the way. Coaches, staff, players and supporters but to most of all my family and Sophie my fiancée who have been there through thick and thin. Whether it was driving me everywhere as a kid, to solid advice throughout I’ll be forever grateful to you for your constant love and support."

Reds Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon paid tribute to the retiring player, a stalwart of his squad over the past three seasons.

He said: "I'd love to have seen Macca play another year, but he made a massive contribution here and has definitely had a fairytale ending to his pro career.

"By his own admission I think Macca would say he had fallen out of love with the game to some extent before making the move to Jersey - I'm really chuffed he made the decision to come here, and when he arrived he got in the best shape of his career and now he goes out with his team having just won the Championship.

"As well as his role as an individual player, don't underestimate Macca's influence as a leader and in supporting other players and the coaching staff - he led by example, week-in and week-out, and is going to be missed in a huge, huge way.

"I hope we'll see him back out here regularly to catch up with his friends in Jersey and cheer us on, and it goes without saying that we wish him well in his forthcoming wedding and in whatever he does next in his career."

Pictures: Sue Armes (top) and Rich Chapman

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